Boot camp training, spying on coworkers, and tips for preparing for the CISSP exam.
Tough Training Encounters
Great job on the November 2001 article "Tough
Training-Boot Camp Style." I went to ACREW in 1999 to become an NT
4.0 MCSE. I had used NT 4.0 for a few years at my job, but to a very limited
extent. There were 16 of us at ACREW, and 15 walked away as MCSEs. The
camp was the most grueling 16 days of my professional life, yet the most
rewarding. Of the 16 students, two or three needed to retake an exam or
For Windows 2000, I tried to get my employer to send me back to ACREW,
but with the economy tanking, they suggested I do the self-study route,
which I did with Transcender's and Microsoft's curriculum. I started in
March, and by mid-August I'd passed 70-210, 215, 216, 217 and 219 on the
first attempt. I still had two to go, but as Microsoft revised things,
two of my NT 4.0 exams are valid electives for Win2K. I'm done-I'm a Win2K
As you pointed out in the article, boot camps aren't for the timid. I
was pushed to the max. Now that I've done the self-study route, too, I
must say I don't feel the boot camp compromised my learning in any way.
With both routes, I needed hands-on experience to solidify what I've learned.
David Fosbenner, MCSE
Maybrook, New York
I want to commend Keith Ward for an outstanding article in the November
issue and tell him that I think he's right on about boot camps. I also
attended a boot camp and observed many of the same things.
I have 10 years' experience in the IT field, including five of them doing
consulting and administration. I decided on a school in Michigan and found
it was really no better than anyone else that I'd heard about. We started
out with 15 students; two of us had been working on Win2K since Beta 1
and we both were currently implementing a Win2K infrastructure on the
job. The rest had very mixed tech backgrounds. Well, two people dropped
out in the first week after failing the first two tests. It was like being
in a military boot camp; unless you worked well under stress, you weren't
going to hang with the big boys!
Only four people walked away with the Win2K MCSE (I wasn't one of them);
but what really interested me is that the one woman in the class, who
had never used NT and only used Novell, passed all of the tests within
the 14-day boot camp.
I just finished reading Keith Ward's article in the November issue, and
I wanted to tell you how well done and balanced I think it is.
I was glad to hear that, when you did your "test call," the woman you
spoke to asked you about your networking background. Also, I give her
kudos for telling you that, because you had no networking experience,
the Win2K track would not be for you (the A+ and Network+ were both good
I found it frustrating that the school you attended allegedly hyped the
"become and MCSE and make a gazillion dollars" claim. Our students (who
must have at least two years of real-world network/NT 4.0 admin experience)
usually know up front whether or not the Win2K certification is going
to give them some raise in pay or if it'll give them leverage in seeking
a new position within either their existing company or with a new employer.
In reading further, you stated that an instructor from the school called
you and asked additional questions regarding your background. Outstanding!
In my position as sales manager, I know how critical it is for a potential
student to understand the pressure-cooker they'll be in once class begins.
One of my favorite questions to ask is, "Tell me about the process you
go through to create multiple subnets from one Class B address." If they
go into a detailed description of determining how many subnets are needed
and so on, I know that they're excellent candidates. If there's a long
period of silence or they tell me that they don't know what a Class B
address is, I tell them our program isn't for them.
Did anyone in your class use brain dumps or TroyTec material? We have
a standing policy that we don't use nor do we condone the use of either
of these two things. Not only is it flat-out cheating, it's illegal and
will not help anyone learn how to manage a Win2K network.
I'm happy to hear that your overall experience was positive. I also agree
with your assertion that a boot camp isn't for everyone.
Brian Taylor, MCP, CCNA, Network+
Sales Manager, MCSE University
I attended a Windows NT 4.0 boot camp in 1998, and Keith Ward's comments
brought back all of the same experiences I had. I went to Mountain View
Systems boot camp in Colorado. We had an excellent instructor (James Carrion,
one of your contributing editors), but the stress level and mental exhaustion
made it a difficult way to obtain my MCSE. If I decide to go for my Win2K
certification, I'd prefer a longer and slower-paced training program.
Paul Rizzo, MCSE, MCP+I
I just recently attended a TechTrain MCSE boot camp in Orlando, Florida,
and I have a nightmare story. I'm very experienced with NT 4.0. I felt
somewhat comfortable with Win2K Professional, but had zero experience
from a domain perspective.
First of all, my company didn't decide to send me to this until two weeks
before the first day of camp. TechTrain sent me five huge books a week
before my first class and told me to have them read by the time I came
to class. Yeah ... right. I skimmed halfway through the first book and
that was about all the time I could find. The first day, the guy lectured
The next day, 14 hours of lecture again. Day three came, and we were
supposed to take both Professional and Server tests that day. We hadn't
even looked at a single test question! We finally started reviewing questions
that afternoon. Basically, we all passed the first test and got overconfident;
most of us failed the server test. They gave use a free voucher to take
it again at a later date. We didn't get out the third day until 14 hours
later. Day four came around and, by this time, my brain was dead.
We began with network implementation and design. We only had class 12
hours a day the next two days, still not looking over as many test questions
as I would've liked. Day six came; we finally looked over a few questions
after he lectured half the day away. We took both tests that evening,
one right after the other. Most of us failed both exams. A few squeaked
by on one or the other, and only two of 14 people passed them both. I
failed both. Here I was, taking four tests and failing three. My back
was to the wall. I had basically eight days of class left and six tests
to pass-three of them make-ups!
I basically abandoned class at this point and started studying on my
own. I researched Web sites, downloaded questions and studied-really studied.
I scheduled my own tests, took them in the afternoon, blew off the rest
of the afternoon for a few hours' rest, went to bed early, and then got
up and studied and did it all over again for the next six days straight.
I'm proud to say I'm an MCSE. Do I feel confident to walk into any Win2K
environment and redo its whole AD design? No. Do I feel like I can do
it from scratch? Yes.
Chad McDaniel, MCSE
What Difference Does the MOC Make?
I just finished your November article about the boot camp. It couldn't
have come at a better time. I enjoyed it, very well done.
I'm the president of the San Francisco NT Users Group, and have assisted
Microsoft in updating the NT exams and assisted in the creation of the
Win2K exams. This allowed me to get an inside scoop on Microsoft's direction.
One item you didn't mention is whether or not the boot camps use Microsoft
Official Curriculum, (which shouldn't be confused with Microsoft Approved
Curriculum). If the MOC isn't used, a student can become an MCT, but not
be Microsoft-approved to teach any of the MCSE classes. Only Microsoft
could make something this convoluted.
San Francisco, California
Some Things are Just Wrong
Dian Schaffhauser, in her October 2001 Editor's Desk column, "The
Yuck Factor," asks, "How would you even come across this stuff in
the normal course of technical support?"
Easy. A co-worker "lost" a file and needed my help. Looking by extension
didn't work, but they were "pretty sure" they had named it with a key
word. Because that word had multiple forms/endings, I simply did a search
that used part of the root of that word in order to cough up everything
that might be the "lost" file. Of course, this yielded a lot of files;
to simplify the next part of the search, I ordered the results according
As I was scrolling through the list, I saw a multitude of names that
had that the root word as well, but could only indicate salacious content.
I don't know what your acceptable use policy states, but ours says these
are verboten. It wasn't just a "one time" or "accidental" swerve. These
.html, .gif and .jpeg files-that stretched back over several months-demonstrated
a willingness to steal the company's time and resources.
I came to the conclusion that not only was this a gross violation of
the acceptable use, but it represented a growing problem for the individual.
I contacted a mutual friend of the co-worker who could be trusted and
set up a meeting time. The three of us had a long, very difficult conversation
that ended with some strong commitments to change and the people to whom
this individual made himself accountable contacted me to let me know that
he was taking steps to change.
I simply can no longer take the idiotic '60s viewpoint that "you do your
thing and I do my thing and if we find each other it's beautiful." It
was crap then and it still is. We're members of a society, not lone rangers.
Our society needs to weigh in again on morality. We don't all have to
be members of the same temple, church or synagogue to come to the conclusion
that some things are wrong-whether popular culture agrees with you or
Truck Driving Better Than Being an MCT
The announcement that NT
4.0 MCSEs who haven't upgraded to Win2K won't be decertified has proven
to me that it's time to get into another line of work.
I'm an MCT. I'm not one of those who took that ridiculous three-day Microsoft
class and then called myself one; I earned it through the brutal Novell
testing for real instructors (the IPE). I have 17 years of experience
in the computer industry and am an engineer, a certified ASE auto mechanic
and a licensed journeyman electrician. I've "been there, done that," and
I bring real-world focus into the classroom, something the majority of
so-called MCTs can't claim.
The technical training industry has been especially hard hit due to recent
events, and the first thing corporate America does during a slowdown (now
a massive economic recession) is eliminate training immediately.
With more than 24,000 MCTs currently licensed to teach MOC and the slowdown
of the demand for training , I saw this planned decertification process
as having two very positive effects.
First, it would have gotten rid of so many worthless and useless educators
from the ranks. The majority of the MCTs I've met in the last five years
are simply reading out of the book. Most of them have no clue how do something
as simple as looking at an IP address and its mask to determine the host's
network number. This decertification would greatly improve the level and
professionalism of instruction and benefit the students.
Second, with the number of MCTs much smaller, it would have put guys
like me back to the head of the class; I would once again be in high demand.
My career was looking bright, now it looks dismal.
So, there you have it. The good instructors leave and the dregs remain.
I think I'll start driving a truck and see America while we still have
How Do I Prepare for the CISSP?
I'm a systems consultant, am very interested in getting certified in CISSP
and wanted help from someone who has gone through the training and has
had first-hand experience. Can you tell me the things I need to know to
prepare for this rigorous certification such as what kind of training
I need and any resources that will help me.
Gregory Kreymer, MCSE, MCP+I, CCNA
The first place to look is in an article I did for Certcities.com,
Your Mettle: The Six-Hour, 250-Question CISSP Exam"; CertCities.com
is a member of the 101 communications family, just like MCP Magazine.